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Coping with Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Worrying about an upcoming presentation or feeling nervous about a trip to the dentist are pretty commonplace emotions that happen in all of us. However, when those feelings get out of control, it’s time to seek help. Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, occurs when a person continually worries about everything, or often, seemingly nothing at all. According to Harvard Medical School, this relatively common disorder affects about 5% of Americans at some point in their lives. Women are twice as likely as men to develop generalized anxiety disorder, and some research suggests that prevalence of this disorder increases with age.

 

Most other anxiety disorders occur as a result of a particular incident, such as a traumatic event or a phobia. Not so with GAD. People who are faced with this disorder experience debilitating worry and agitation. They fret over everyday matters and fear that something bad is always waiting for them right around the corner: Things such as getting in a car accident, a loved one dying, or losing a job.

 

Not only do sufferers of GAD experience terrible fear and worry, but they can also experience distinct physical symptoms as a result, such as a racing heart, dry mouth, upset stomach, muscle tension, sweating, trembling, and irritability. People with GAD also startle extremely easily, tend to feel tired, have trouble concentrating, and sometimes suffer from depression, in addition to the anxiety.

 

These symptoms make up an essential part of generalized anxiety disorder. Over time, the physical manifestations of anxiety can have a negative impact on a person’s health. For example: People with generalized anxiety disorder are at greater risk than other people for heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. In fact, studies have shown that about a quarter of people with cardiovascular disease have some kind of anxiety problem and, in some cases, the anxiety seems to make the heart condition worse.

 

Specific Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

  • Excessive anxiety and worry about events or activities (such as work performance or family matters) that occurs more days than not for at least six months.
  • Difficulty controlling the worry.
  • Anxiety and worry associated with three (or more) of the following six symptoms (with at least some symptoms present for more days than not for the past six months).
    • Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
    • Being easily fatigued
    • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
    • Irritability
    • Muscle tension
    • Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless unsatisfying sleep)

 

If you or a family member suffers from GAD, consulting with your employee assistance provider can be the first step to managing this condition.

 

Southwest EAP has provided employee assistance programs and risk management solutions to companies since 1978. Our commitment to excellence is founded on the belief that active partnership with our client companies and delivering face-to-face services produces the best results. Visit us online at http://www.southwesteap.com.

Categories:Mental Health

Tags:Anxiety

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Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder

When winter’s doldrums set in, it’s common for many of us to slip into the blues and not really understand why. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that occurs during a particular season of the year, typically fall and winter, when the days are shortest and we don’t see as much sunlight.

 

SAD can affect anyone, although, according to Dr. Norman Rosenthal, the psychiatrist who first described the condition in 1984, SAD occurs four times as much in women as men, and almost 10 times more frequently in people who live further north of the equator.

 

Those most affected are typically people in their late teens, 20s, and 30s, with the majority being women in their 30s. Older adults are less likely to develop it. The depression is frequently moderate to major, and SAD sufferers frequently have other family members with depression.

Varying levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin are believed to play a role in SAD. Since SAD occurs when there is less natural sunlight, it’s believed that the sleep hormone melatonin, which has been linked to depression, also may play a role. The body makes more melatonin in the dark, so the shorter, grayer days of winter have a tendency to increase melatonin levels.

 

This type of winter depression is typically accompanied by social withdrawal, increased sleep, and weight gain, and it predictably returns every year in seasonal affective disorder. Unsurprisingly, this depression generally lifts during spring and summer when the days start getting longer.

 

What to Do if You Have SAD

 

People with a mild case of SAD can ease symptoms by increasing the time they are exposed to sunlight during the day. Spending time outdoors each day and getting regular outdoor exercise are two effective methods to combat SAD. Taking vitamin D supplements has also been shown to help prevent and improve seasonal depression.  

 

For more severe cases, doctors may prescribe light therapy and possibly antidepressants. Light therapy involves exposure to very bright, full-spectrum fluorescent light for a certain amount of time each morning.

 

To help combat the blues during the fall and winter, try to get regular exercise and spend time outside each day. Rearrange the furniture in your home and workspace and open the blinds or curtains to take advantage of as much sunlight in the fall and winter as possible. Talk to us at Southwest EAP or call your doctor if you have signs or symptoms of SAD that are significant enough to interfere with your daily life. Your doctor can refer you to a mental health professional trained to treat patients with SAD. 

 

Your EAP Is Here to Help

 

Southwest EAP has provided employee assistance programs and risk management solutions to companies since 1978. Our commitment to excellence is founded on the belief that active partnership with our client companies and delivering face-to-face services produces the best results. Visit us online at http://www.southwesteap.com.

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How an EAP Can Help Reduce Sick Leave

It’s a fact: Healthy employees are more productive, have fewer absences, and are more engaged overall, which can result in a positive impact on your company’s bottom line. However, according to a recent poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Foundation, the Harvard Opinion Research Program, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, employees agree that their jobs and workplaces have an impact on their health, but not necessarily in a positive manner.

 

In their survey of more than 1,600 adult workers in the United States, one in six (16%) responded that their current job has an adverse effect on their overall health. This negative impact also extends to the workers’ stress levels (43%), eating habits (28%), sleeping habits (27%), and weight loss or gain (22%). The main causes of stress at work aren’t terribly surprising – they include workload management, issues with managers or fellow employees, difficulty coping with work and personal life balance, and a perceived lack of job security.

 

An analysis conducted by the World Health Organization found that by 2030, the world will have lost 12 billion workdays due to depression and anxiety disorders. This adds up to an incredible 50 million years of work lost and puts the annual financial impact to the global economy at a staggering $925 billion.

 

This stress can also be blamed for a loss in productivity, with 35 percent of employees confessing that they lose one hour or more per day in productivity due to stress. So, it’s easy to see why, in today’s fast-paced work environment, it’s more important than ever for employers to promote healthy working behaviors and surroundings. However, this thinking should extend beyond traditional wellness programs such as weight management and step challenges to mental health management. More employers have been inspired to provide employees with benefits and programs to reduce stress, with one survey finding that 54 percent of employers planned to offer physical activity programs for their employees as of January 2015. But that’s not enough. Employers need to take a long, hard look at helping their employees manage their mental health as well as their physical health. They also need to think about how they communicate these benefits to their diverse employee populations.

 

A 2015 study of more than 2,000 U.S. employees conducted by The Futures Company, Aon, and National Business Group on Health indicated that there’s quite a disparity among generations when it comes to using an employee assistance program provided by their employer. While only 7% of Boomers said they’ve taken advantage of their EAP, 12% of Gen Xers and 23% of Millennials have used theirs. Awareness is key. Managers need to not only ensure their teams know an EAP is an option, but they also need to encourage their employees to rely on it as a tool to help them manage stress. The reduction in absenteeism and increase in productivity are worth it.

 

Southwest EAP has provided employee assistance programs and risk management solutions to companies since 1978. Our commitment to excellence is founded on the belief that active partnership with our client companies and delivering face-to-face services produces the best results. Visit us online at http://www.southwesteap.com.

Categories:EAP Effectiveness

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